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What Is a Stress Fracture on the Foot?

by Robert Mullis
  • Overview

    Physical exercise is a great way to stay in shape, but some athletes work themselves too hard. The consequences may include a steady intensification of pain in the foot as the bones weaken and break to form a stress fracture.
  • Mechanical Stress

    The skeletal system is remarkably adaptable, considering how rigid bones are. The textbook "Human Anatomy and Physiology" states that regular mechanical stress to a certain region of a bone will signal the body to maintain high density in that bone area.
  • Stress Fractures

    The bones of your feet and legs bear a constant amount of mechanical stress, because they must support the entire weight of the body. Stress fractures occur when constant mechanical force causes tiny cracks in the bones of the feet.
  • Symptoms

    Pain is the most obvious sign of a stress fracture in the foot, especially pain that gets worse during exercise and then subsides somewhat during rest. The site of the stress fracture may also swell and feel tender to the touch.
  • Treatments

    If the stress fracture is severe, you may need to use crutches or a walking boot while the damage heals. Otherwise, the body will usually repair the damage itself. Acetaminophen pain relievers can be used to ease any discomfort. Surgery is required only in the most extreme cases.
  • Prevention

    Because stress fractures are common during strenuous exercises, you should ease into a new routine so that your feet can adapt to the extra stress. Also, it is always helpful to have enough calcium in your diet to maintain bone density.

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